Sunday, June 12, 2011

Low-Cal Oatmeal Cookies

This is a simple recipe to make, but I have one major problem with it: when was I supposed to add the raisins? Maybe I was supposed to eat them while I baked? Dear Food Network, please make that part of your instructions much more clear.

I think this might be the first recipe I've made with booze in it. Our ceilings started leaking on two levels of the house yesterday, causing a lot of damage and inconvenience so far, so I figured today would be a good day to add the booze to these cookies. If it matters to you, I used rum, not whiskey.

I didn't measure the amount of raisins I had. I just found a small container of them in the cupboard and used them up. When I added the rum to the raisins, I discovered that there were some dried cranberries in there too. Cool! As a matter of convenience, I bought the small individual packs of applesauce so that I can take the rest in my lunch. They were also on sale. The 1/4 cup you'll need is less than one little individual size so you'll have a little snack while you bake, especially if you eat the raisins. Since we're on a budget these days, I used the artificial vanilla that we already had.

Really simple cookies to make. And how have I never used parchment paper before? So easy to use, simple clean up, and it's recyclable when you've removed the cookies. The one who does most of the dishes (ME) loves parchment paper!

Now that they're cool enough to eat, these cookies are really yummy. The edges are a bit crispy-crunchy, and the middles are soft and chewy. I think I need to eat a few more to make sure that the quality is consistently delicious...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bankruptcy Stew

I get the giggles whenever I see the title of this recipe. I think I've figured out why it is called "bankruptcy": the meat for this recipe will set you back a bit. However, since I'm now in Alberta, at least I know the meat will be awesome.

As far as ingredients go, I made a few modifications. In the end, I added about 3 more cups of water, and about 3 more teaspoons of pasta/tomato sauce. Since I lacked the fresh parsley, I added a tablespoon of italian seasoning. I didn't have a whole yellow onion; instead, I chopped up the remaining half of a red onion that I already had on hand. Peppers are gross so I left that out. My carrots happened to be baby carrots so I guesstimated how many to use. I also drained a can of mushrooms and added them. Maybe next time I won't drain them first in order to have enough liquid.

A word of advice: when it says to simmer for an hour on medium, you should probably turn it down to simmer, or just above simmer. I had mine on medium as prescribed, but it seriously lacked in moisture which is why I added more to mine. It also stuck to the bottom of my pot, but that's because I didn't use a non-stick as suggested. Also, I ended up combining about 6oz. of water with about 2.5 tbsp of flour (shaken, not stirred) to thicken my liquid. That meant it simmered for about an additional 15 minutes.

It's hot, it's filling if a little bland, and I ate mine with a side of the Meatatarian's homemade sourdough bread. With the few adjustments I had to make, I think it still turned out well. And, unlike my last recipe (see Stuffed Shells in June 2011), this one didn't take hours and hours!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Stuffed Shells

I wanted to make some more "healthy" recipes that we would both eat, but chef be warned: this one took me the entire length of the Canucks game last night, including the 13 seconds of overtime! If that makes no sense to you, I'll translate: Leave lots of time for cooking.

What I didn't realize when I picked this recipe is how many different "sections" there are to it. Cook this, set aside. Cook this, set aside. I tripped myself up a bit by not doing too much cooking at the same time; on the other hand, I didn't want too much craziness in the kitchen after having been out canoeing all day.

For once, I didn't have many substitutions/ommissions for my ingredients. The grocery store didn't have scallions so those were the only things I left out. While the ricotta was the suggested reduced-fat version, the mozzarella was the full-fat (regular) version. There's something about low-fat blocks of cheese that I just don't really enjoy. Since I used all of the ricotta, it didn't matter as much. I didn't measure the onion but I chopped up half of one. My basil plant died during the week (since replaced - keep your fingers crossed!), so I used an unmeasured amount of "squeeze tube" basil. I don't think my tomatoes were peeled - does it really matter? I ended up squishing them to heck with my hands (per recipe directions) so if I make this again, I'll buy the cans of chopped tomatoes. Oh, and I actually had fresh parsley! I chopped up a bunch of it and assumed it was about two tablespoons. For the spinach, I ended up buying two different size containers to get enough. I used all of the 10 oz. bin, and threw in about 2/3 of the 9 oz. bag, attempting to come up with 16 oz. (1 lb.) total.

I learned a few new things with this recipe, besides the time management issue outlined at the beginning. One, the spinach does not catch fire or dry out like I thought it would when cooking it by itself in the pot. Two, squeezing a handful of not-quite-cool-enough spinach really hurts. Seriously, let it cool. Three, the zucchini does not shrivel up or catch fire when cooked on its own either. And when you mix it into a recipe, it's bearable to eat. I picked this recipe in part to try some new vegetables, and to add more vegetables to our diet.

Aside from initially not being able to easily get the sauce to simmer, and it didn't seem to thicken very much by the end, this recipe wasn't technically difficult. And in addition to requiring a lot of time, it also needs a lot of counter space so keep that in mind too. In the end, when the game was over and the oven timer went off, the meal was hot and flavourful, if a little overdue. Not really an "in a jiffy" kind of dinner, but in terms of healthier options, it's on the list to try again.